Crate & Barrel Flagship

The SCB-designed Crate & Barrel flagship store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago integrates a number of unique design concepts in a project of its kind. While at the time, retail on this strip was generally integrated into the first and second stories of high-rise office towers, SCB created a design that would set Crate & Barrel apart from its competitors.


Chicago, IL


Architecture /
Mixed-Use + Retail /


American Architecture Award, Chicago Athenaeum

Merit Award Finalist, Chicago Building Congress

Rather than the typical one- or two-stories of retail space at the base of a tall tower, the building is designed as a stand-alone store with a program that accommodates a high level of traffic over four levels.

The project also established a new paradigm for retail design by making the building a product display platform from the street. A sky-lit, glass-enclosed atrium makes the most of the store’s corner real estate, while a second three-story rectangular atrium floods the central retail spaces with natural light. Through the extensive use of glass, shoppers passing by are able to clearly see the product, which invites pedestrians to come in and explore. The building’s exterior is composed of clear glass panels and ribbed, glossy, white metal panels, which provided the store with a unique identity that still looks fresh today.

The Michigan Avenue facility became the model for over 40 SCB-designed Crate & Barrel stores across the United States. It also set an important precedent for stand-alone retail stores on Chicago’s renowned retail thoroughfare, altering its character to become more pedestrian friendly and paving the way for contemporary imitators.